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The fish is going to sleep with the fishes…some more…forever…gah

Yeah, I’m pretty sure our fish is done for.

Betting on the possibility that the swelling was just constipation, we cleaned out his tank last night and put some epsom salts in the clean water. But once I had taken the fish out and had him in a cup while the new water was getting to the right temperature, I got to take a look at him from above and saw that his scales were raised. According to the few sites that talk about betta illnesses, that’s a Very Bad Sign.

I took some pictures of him just for documentation. We told the baby to say goodbye.

This morning the fish was still hanging on, though he was sort of curled in a corner and not moving very much at all. I feel really bad for him since it looks so uncomfortable and I’m so worried that he’s in a ton of pain.

The baby is taking the impending loss pretty well. When we initially told him that the fish was probably going to be dying very soon, he cried. But over the weekend he’s been focused on just being very nice to the fish, drawing him pictures to be placed by the tank and offering to drop pennies into the water (we quashed that gesture). He knows it’s coming and is sure to tell the fish that he’s loved and will be missed.

But this whole episode has, not surprisingly, exacerbated the baby’s fears about death…specifically my death. I’m not sure when exactly he caught wind of the fact that every living thing someday dies, including moms, but it’s been a struggle ever since. I’m stuck somewhere between wanting to be honest with him and not wanting to see him upset. We’ve touched on concepts like heaven but I’ve told him that no one knows for sure what happens when you die and when he’s gone down the list of people he loves to find out if they will all have the same fate I’ve told him the truth.

I’ve also told him that death scares me sometimes too and it’s perfectly natural and good to be at least a little afraid. I don’t feel comfortable slipping into religious explanations because I don’t really believe them and it doesn’t seem fair to assuage his fears by telling him something I don’t think is true…or really that will ultimately let him down when he gets older and more cynical.

I don’t know. I don’t want to make it sound like an obsession. It’s not like it’s death 24/7 at our house. But he gets really upset by the fact that I am going to die which I totally understand. Hell, I’m 29 and I’m still paralyzed when I think about the fact that my mom will die someday.

But I wouldn’t mind if he just kinda laid off every once in awhile. On my birthday we had a relatively cheerful discussion of the things that he will place in my coffin when I die (ie, drawings, toys, etc.).

But I kinda felt like, “Hey, could we NOT discuss my mortality right now since I’ve just taken a step closer to it? Thanks.”

4 comments to The fish is going to sleep with the fishes…some more…forever…gah

  • Zach

    “But over the weekend he’s been focused on just being very nice to the fish, drawing him pictures to be placed by the tank…”

    That’s the sweetest, saddest thing. :/

  • Tate

    I know exactly what you mean about the reconciliation between honesty, fact, and your child’s delicate feelings. A grandmother on the baby daddy’s side died recently and suddenly I was faced with the daunting task of explaining the most simple yet most complex part of human existence to a 4-year-old. The idea that was the hardest to convey was also the one I wanted to emphasize the least; that when someone dies they are dead FOREVER and that it happens to everyone. Agh. I still need someone to explain all these things to me.

    The anecdote about placing drawings and what not next to the fish bowl made me teary with its sweetness.

  • Poor fishy. My condolences. That is a sticky wicket, dealing with the philosophical wonderings of a five year old.

    Maybe you can tell him that scientists are trying to figure out a way to isolate and manipulate the genes that cause aging so they can make it so we don’t have to die if we don’t want to and don’t get hit by any buses. Then maybe he’ll be inspired to grow up to be a brilliant scientist/Nobel laureate.

    Not trying to be flip. I sure wish science would get on that immortality thing soon, though. I’m getting crow’s feet. “Time marches on, and sooner or later you realize it is marchin’ across your face.”
    Oh, I love you, Steel Magnolias.

  • I was surprised once when someone I trust very much about these things just said to a kid about the Baby’s age that sure, her mom would die but not for a very long time, not until she was old enough to take care of herself. I got all worried about the honesty factor, “But her mom could get hit by a bus tomorrow, or she could live to be 100, we just DON’T KNOW” and he told me to remember that there’s only so much the kid could handle and since in all probability mom would be around until she could get her own cereal I might just lay off. I get over excited, I can’t help it.

    I, of course, am also a little obsessed with death and its trappings and would be all over the discussion of what to put in your coffin. Sorry. I bet he would put awesome stuff in there, though.

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